Southampton Arts Center honors founding board co-chair Simone Levinson at SummerFest

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The benefit event raised almost one million dollars for the art center’s year-round programming and was  followed by the second annual event SummerFest After Dark:  a late-night success

Photo Credit: Patrick McMullan

As the sun set over the Southampton Arts Center on Saturday, August 19, over 450 dinner guests settled in for an evening celebrating SAC and its 2023 Champion of the Arts Award Winner, founding board co-chair Simone Levinson, honored for her long commitment to the arts scene of Southampton. With contributions still pouring in, even after the spectacular event, the event is expected to raise over one million dollars for the institution’s year-round programming.

The lavish event was attended by an eclectic mix of Southampton Arts Center supporters including Frederick Anderson, Ross Bleckner, Candace Bushnell, Lisa & Jimmy Cohen, Renee Cox, Lisa Dennison, Wendy Federman, Ivy Getty, Caroline Hirsch, Robert Longo, Sondra & David Mack, Gaia Matisse, Aoki Lee Simmons, Ming Lee Simmons, Lisa & Steve Tananbaum, Pamela & Edward Panzer, John Paulson, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Peter Thomas Roth and Stefano Tonchi.

Guests enjoyed a visit to Change Agents: Women Collectors Shaping the Art World, on view through September 30, 2023, marking the first exhibition of its kind at the Arts Center to unite the unparalleled visions of 14 women collectors dedicated to championing artists and further impacting the cultural landscape through dynamic discourse and an ambition for change.

The evening’s entertainment was provided by Academy Award Winner Ariana DeBose and Broadway Star and Grammy Nominee Jessica Vosk. Guests enjoyed food from Acqualina and participated in a live and silent auction of works including celebrity photographer Harry Benson, whose exhibition A Moment in Time: Iconic Images by Harry Benson was recently on view at Southampton Arts Center. Sponsors included Sotheby’s, Donum Wines, Bvlgari, Peter Thomas Roth, Splash, Mortlach Whisky, tablecloths and place cards by Camilla Webster, Hutong, and Meredith Marks Caviar.

2023 Honoree Simone Levinson shared, “Having long held both the arts and the Southampton community dear, I am thrilled and honored to receive this year’s Champion of the Arts Award. The 10th anniversary of Southampton Arts Center marks a successful decade of serving a local and international community, which I am proud to be a part of, through dynamic programming feeding lively discourse – currently exemplified by our exhibition Change Agents: Female Collectors Shaping the Art World.”

Following SummerFest, After Dark welcomed guests from 10pm to 2am with a surprise performance by Saucy Santana and a set from DJ Professor from Set Artist Management. From the sponsors, guests enjoyed drinks from Absolut; desserts by Baked by Melissa; a Bvlgari set up; Golden Espresso Martini Maker with Eva Longoria’s Casa Del Sol Tequila; Catering; wine from Sonoma vineyard The Donum Estate, home to the world’s largest private sculpture collections including works from Yayoi Kusama, Ai Wewei ,and many other renowned artists, at their first event outside of California; event design by Geo Events; Meredith Marks debuting her caviar on a cart “Meredith Marks Caviar”; whisky by Mortlach; drinks by Splash; and gift bags by Peter Thomas Roth.

At 10 pm After Dark started with co-chairs Ivy Getty, Andrew Warren, Alexander Hankin, Gaia Matisse, Makenzie Phelan and Emma Holzer along with attending hosts being Emira D’Spain, Ming Lee Simmons, Aoki Lee Simmons, Brooks Marks, Ryan Thomas Roth, Julian Polak, Kate Barlette, Julia Moshy and Melany RodriguezGaia Matisse curated the art displayed alongside Ivy GettyEmma Holzer (Andy Warhols muse and Baby Jane Holzer’s granddaughter) and art collectors Amy and John Phelan’s daughter, Makenzie Moon Phelan.

The event brought together a diverse array of prominent Gen Z and Millennials no other event in The Hamptons has this summer, and was created by CollXab Agency. On the DJ booth was Isiah Thomas’s son, DJ Zeke Thomas. Fern Mallis stopped to wish Aoki Lee Simmons a happy birthday, who was celebrating her 21st birthday that night. Shortly after, co-chair Andrew Warren got on stage to wish Aoki a happy birthday, which followed a surprise parade of Absolut Elyx bottles with glow lights and sparklers. She celebrated alongside sister Ming Lee Simmons and fellow music mogul daughters Ava Dash (of Damon Dash and Rachel Roy) and Riley Burrus (Kandi Burrus daughter). Joining Aoki’s birthday table was also Ivy Getty, Logan Horne, Emira D’Spain, Batsheva Haart, Julia Haart, Brooks Marks and Meredith Marks who sent Aoki two huge trays of Meredith Marks Caviar with Bellinis.

Around 1 am, Alexander Hankin and Andrew Warren called fellow co-chair Makenzie Moon Phelan on stage to thank her and her family Amy and John Phelan for helping underwrite part of the After Dark Party and making it possible. Emma Holzer and Ivy Getty joined them to announce the performance, Saucy Satana. Saucy has the song of the summer “One Margarita” and is known for the hit single “Material Girl”. Saucy got everyone to the stage and ended his performance dancing on stage with Ava Dash. Ava Dash led a dance party on stage, dancing on top of the DJ booth and bringing everyone out for more dancing.

SummerFest Event Chairs

Lauren and Marty Geller

Jamee and Peter Gregory

David Levinson

Caterina and Charles Stewart

Helena and Rob Vahradian

SummerFest Host Committee 

Gigi and Harry Benson

Stacey Bronfman and Alex Roepers

Lisa Dennison

Renee Harbers and Chris Liddell

Kim Heirston

Sylvia Hemingway

Jane Holzer

Sharon and Bill Jacobs

Erica and Michael Karsch

Margie and Michael Loeb

Chris and Richard Mack

Fern Mallis

Jane and Peter Marino

Mary Ann Tighe

and David Hidalgo

Fiona and Eric Rudin

Nicole Salmasi

Aline and Tom Shapiro

Stefano Tonchi

Teri and Barry Volpert

Marcy and Michael Warren

After Dark Hosts 

Kate Bartlett

Emira D’Spain

Brooks Marks

Julia Moshy

Noor Pahlavi

Julian Polak


Melany Rodriguez

Ryan Thomas Roth

Ming Lee Simmons

Harrison Vail

About Simone Levinson

Simone Levinson’s commitment to the East End began over 45 years ago when she spent long summer weekends at the home of Anthony Drexel Duke volunteering at Boys Harbor in East Hampton, where her mother served on the Board.  His vitality and passion for public service left an indelible impression on her. This spirit of volunteerism instilled in her a deep sense of community and philanthropy.

As a child actor who appeared in film, television and over 50 commercials over the span of 25 years, Simone’s lifelong involvement in the arts inspired her to lead the charge as one of the founding co-chairs of Southampton Arts Center where she has served since 2010. It is here that her passion for arts and community collided. She has worked tirelessly to galvanize the East End community to come together and embrace the concept of repurposing one of its most beloved buildings into a new arts center that has served a broad audience on a year-round basis with cultural content and education activities. Southampton Arts Center is truly a shining example of what Simone does best.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of SAC, she conceived of the idea for Change Agents: Female Collectors Shaping the Art World, featuring the collections of a diverse group of women who impact the cultural landscape through contributions to established

institutions, champion artists in the earliest days of developing their practice, and expand the public art sphere through newly developed foundations and exhibition spaces. She, and these pioneering women, continue to drive dynamic discourse around contemporary art and further evolve the narrative of the art historical canon.

Beyond SAC, she has dedicated her time towards and has been instrumental in the fight for education reform. She had served as both Vice Chairman of Turnaround for Children, an organization that has worked with over 100 of New York City’s lowest performing schools, as well as on the National Leadership Council of Communities in Schools. Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her to both the (SAGE) Spending and Government Efficiency Commission to New York State and the Commission for Judicial Nomination, for which she served for eight years.

A highly strategic thinker with a sharp focus on the most efficient ways to create solutions to complex problems, Simone has been the architect of many initiatives that not only serve their constituencies but allow them to thrive and be self-sustaining. She is highly regarded as a philanthropic entrepreneur. She co-founded the Women’s Division of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2010 that continues to educate and engage hundreds of women in supporting the US-Israel relationship. She served as co-chair of its Women’s Executive Council.

Simone is also involved in the Palm Beach Preservation Society and recently joined the Chairman’s Council of the Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach. She was formerly on the Chairman’s Council of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

She has been collaborating with her husband David Levinson, Chairman and CEO of L+L Holding Company, for over 25 years. Together they have two children: James, 21 and Lauren, 16.

About Southampton Arts Center 

Southampton Arts Center is committed to community building through the arts. We present and produce inspiring, inclusive, socially, and regionally relevant programs across all disciplines – welcoming, connecting, and collaborating with the diverse members of New York’s East End community and beyond. SAC is a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton, New York 11968. For more information visit or call 631-283-0967. Follow SAC on Facebook and Instagram @southamptonartscenter.


Kat Harding / FITZ & CO /

Talia Trauner / FITZ & CO /

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